Gardner, not Winn, likely to start for Yankees

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According to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com “all indications” are that Brett Gardner will be the Yankees’ starting left fielder, with veteran free agent pickup Randy Winn “serving more of a fourth outfielder’s role.”
When the Yankees signed Winn in January the opposite was thought to be true, but manager Joe Girardi said yesterday that Gardner “is a guy that we think has the ability to play every day and we think he has to show it.”
Gardner has hit just .256 with a .325 on-base percentage and .352 slugging percentage through 150 games as a major leaguer after batting .280/.391/.385 in 143 games at Triple-A, so his offense will be well below par at a position where the MLB average was .270/.341/.440 in 2009.
However, he figures to be an elite defensive left fielder and also brings a ton of speed to the table, swiping 39 bases in 425 plate appearances with the Yankees and 53 bases per 600 plate appearances in the minors. Which is why Gardner was among my favorite fantasy sleepers for AL-only leagues even before apparently moving past Winn on the depth chart.

Mets invite Tim Tebow to spring training

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Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.

Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.

Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.